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Cablegate: Tfle01: The Evacuation Crisis Is Not yet Over:

VZCZCXRO2622
OO RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ
DE RUEHNC #1208/01 2080939
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 270939Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY NICOSIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6520
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 4698
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 4181
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV PRIORITY 6351
RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 NICOSIA 001208

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

FOR U/S BURNS, U/S FORE, AND A/S HARTY FROM AMBASSADOR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PINS AEMR MARR CASC LE CY
SUBJECT: TFLE01: THE EVACUATION CRISIS IS NOT YET OVER:
URGENT NEED FOR A WAY FORWARD IN CYPRUS

REF: NICOSIA 1195 AND PREVIOUS

1. THIS IS AN ACTION REQUEST -- SEE PARAGRAPH 10.

2. (SBU) SUMMARY. With civilian outflow from Lebanon
slowing, Post is facing a looming crisis involving the
approximately 250 or so people who remain in the Cyprus
International Fairgrounds because one or more members of
their families cannot be documented for onward travel to the
US. Post has received DHS TDY assistance and has expedited
the procedures for requesting humanitarian parole from DHS.
Nonetheless, parole approvals take time and our DHS TDYer has
identified at least ten families with members who have
serious ineligibilities that would likely prevent them from
ever obtaining parole. This number is likely to grow as more
evacuees trickle in and are processed. All assisted arrivals
are currently being housed at the Fairgrounds in Nicosia at
open-ended USG expense with medical support from CTF-59.
Those with Cypriot visas (required of Lebanese) are facing
the imminent expiration of their allowed five-day stay. The
Government of Cyprus, already overwhelmed by tens of
thousands of third country civilians fleeing Lebanon, is
certain to react angrily when it realizes we have left those
ineligible to enter the United States, including convicted
criminals and drug dealers, on their shores; the GOC has
already clamped down on undocumented arrivals at its seaports
and airports -- and its ability to retaliate by restricting
further assisted departure operations and/or operational
support missions for Embassy Beirut -- cannot be ignored.

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3. (SBU) Post requests that the Department urgently/urgently
consult with DHS on a procedure whereby Post would inform
undocumented family members that they may board a charter
flight to the United States with the explicit understanding
that at the Port of Entry they would be put into detention
until either DHS could resolve their status or until it was
safe to return them to Lebanon. Undocumented family members
would make their own choice as to whether to submit to
detention or travel elsewhere. This method would also allow
families to travel to the United States together, thus
preventing accusations that the U.S. government is "forcing"
U.S. citizens back into a war zone, and allow DHS to conduct
more in-depth security checks on these arrivals. END SUMMARY.

4. (SBU) With the largest outflow from Lebanon apparently
behind us, Embassy Nicosia and our military colleagues have
been able to clear most of the backlog of those arriving from
Lebanon. Assuming outgoing airlift capacity continues to
match or exceed the inflow of civilians arriving by sea and
air, Post does not anticipate a repeat of the situation
earlier in the NEO, when as many as three thousand people
were sheltered at the Fairgrounds. We are pleased and proud
to have helped over 13,000 of our compatriots get out of
harm's way and back home. As the tide has receded, however,
a smaller -- but much more problematic -- group of arrivals
remains behind. We do not have the authority to solve all
their problems by ourselves, and thus need Washington's
urgent help.

5. (SBU) Currently some 250 people are at the Fairgrounds
because the lack of proper documentation or uncertainties
about their immigration status prevent them from proceeding
immediately to the United States -- and more such cases
continue to arrive each day. Post has been able to
adjudicate many of these cases quickly; when it is simply a
matter of replacing passports, documenting LPRs or reissuing
those with expired visas, our consuls have been able to move
such people expeditiously to outbound flights.

6. (SBU) However, in cases where a DHS decision on
humanitarian parole is required, the process has been much
slower. DHS has provided TDY help and expedited the
processing. But each parole decision must still be approved
at the Assistant Secretary level. As of July 27, several
people whom we believe are likely candidates for eventual
parole have spent as many as six nights in the Fairgrounds
shelter at USG expense -- with no end in sight. American
citizen family members are reluctant to leave their
undocumented kin. Patience is beginning to wear thin among
those at the Fairgrounds; a violent altercation was only
narrowly averted on July 25, frustration continues to grow,
and the situation is often tense.

7. (SBU) To make matters worse, there are 25 or so

NICOSIA 00001208 002 OF 002


individuals with Class One ineligibilities (including
convicted rapists, drug dealers and deportees), who are
unlikely candidates for parole. These individuals, sometimes
with family members who are U.S. citizens or otherwise
eligible to go to the U.S. in tow, pose two serious
difficulties.

8. (SBU) First, there is the immediate question of safety and
order. It is our sense that some of these individuals were
behind the rumors, grumbling, and discontent that led to the
near-brawl on July 25. We are even more gravely concerned,
however, about the threat posed by those with criminal
backgrounds who are housed in the same facility as
unaccompanied minors, single mothers, and other vulnerable
people. Post is actively exploring alternative
accommodations, such as hotels, to segregate out those with
criminal histories in the short term, as we work to expedite
the onward travel of those who are qualified. We are
ill-equipped to provide personal, 24-hour protection at the
Fairgrounds facility which, after all, is not -- and should
not resemble -- a camp, rather than an emergency shelter.

9. (SBU) Cases who are unlikely to qualify for parole into
the U.S. pose a second, longer-term difficulty: what do we do
with them? The U.S. government cannot lodge them
indefinitely in Cyprus, either in hotels or at the
Fairgrounds. Nor can we opt for "refoulement" by sending
them back into the country we just helped them flee. The
Government of Cyprus has made it clear that foreign
governments are responsible for onward transit of any third
country nationals that they have brought into Cyprus. The
GOC understandably would react strongly and negatively if
they believed we were not fulfilling this responsibility, and
could easily retaliate by withholding future cooperation in
assisted departure efforts or other vital missions, like a
renewed Beirut air or sea bridge. Cutting ineligible cases
loose here is not an option.

10. (SBU) Post therefore requests that the Department:

a) Consult with DHS to establish immediately a procedure
whereby Post would inform undocumented family members that
they may board a charter flight to the United States with the
explicit understanding that at the Port of Entry they would
be put into detention until either DHS could resolve their
status or until it was safe to return them to Lebanon.
Undocumented family members would make their own choice as to
whether to submit to detention or travel elsewhere. This
method would also allow families to travel to the United
States together and allow DHS to conduct more in-depth
security checks on these arrivals.

b) While option a) is under discussion, urge DHS to expedite
the processing of cases using the current parole procedure
and provide guidance on how we should handle those who will
not qualify for parole.

11. Our assisted departure efforts from Lebanon so far have
been a major success for all concerned. However, unless we
quickly resolve the issues outlined above, the U.S.
government runs the risk of our success being undermined and
replaced with serious diplomatic and public relations
problems.

12. We request guidance on these issues as soon as possible.
SCHLICHER

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